Returned AgriCorps Fellow: Melissa Tabke
Placement: AgriCorps Fellow and 4-H Ghana Liaison and Country Director for Liberia
I work for Colorado State University Extension as a 4-H Agent in Mesa County, Colorado. 4-H programming, volunteer management, a lot of communication between entities is all part of my daily routine.
How did your time as an AgriCorps Fellow lead you to the next step in your career?
AgriCorps definitely opened me up to the idea of being an educator. I found I enjoyed teaching and program development much more than I ever thought I would. My time with AgriCorps definitely challenged me to become more resourceful and organized. My time in West Africa taught me a lot about becoming part of and creating new community. All of those things are really important in my current role.
How did your time as an AgriCorps Fellow shape your views on international trade and development?
After 4 years of interacting with a variety of development organizations (local, local government, US government, foreign government, all types of implementors, etc.) I have found there are a lot of good ways to do development, but a lot more ways to ruin livelihoods, especially in more fragile countries like Liberia. Being conscious of where you give your money to is important, at the same time, trusting that organization will do good, honest work with that money is important. I believe local implementors generally have better ideas about how to solve local problems and less hoops to jump through, they just need a little organization and guidance sometimes. We need to continuously work towards aid dollars being a supplement, not creating a false economy.
What was a memorable experience from your time in West Africa?
I loved teaching at the University of Liberia. It opened the doors to working with several livestock producers and youth groups. Having collegiate interns brought a lot of energy to the 4-H program in Liberia.